After an overnight bus trip from New York City drawn out even longer because of a snowy conditions, the Maine Red Claws could be excused for looking a bit ragged Sunday night.

Sure enough, near the end of their first possession, their offense sputtered and point guard Andre Stringer was forced to throw up a 26-foot fade-away.

He made it.

What’s more, he was just getting warmed up.

Stringer also beat the halftime buzzer and third-quarter buzzer with desperation heaves from midcourt. The first one banked in and the second swished.

It was that kind of night for the Red Claws, who cruised to a 120-92 NBA D-League victory over the Erie Bayhawks before a crowd of 2,257 Sunday night at the Portland Expo.


“He hit three shots that probably shouldn’t have gone in,” said Red Claws Coach Scott Morrison. “But at the same time, we had tough luck shooting all week on the road. We grinded out a couple wins with our defense and I was kind of saying to the guys and the staff before the game that we’re due for a couple breaks shooting-wise. We’ll take ’em.”

Stringer finished with 19 points and Chris Babb added 24 to lead seven scorers in double figures for the Red Claws, who never trailed after the opening minute to earn their fifth victory in six games. The last four games of that stretch came within a six-day period and included stops in Indiana and Texas before playing Saturday night in Westchester, New York.

“This is definitely our toughest stretch of the season,” said Babb, who shot 7 for 11 from the field (including 3 for 4 from 3-point range). He also had six assists and held one of the D-League’s better prospects, Drew Crawford, to four points on 2-of-9 shooting. “It would have been easy to come in and lay down and make excuses, but this league is about who’s the toughest and who’s willing to go the hardest to achieve your goals.”

Maine (23-11) jumped out to an 11-point lead after one quarter and Erie (13-21) threatened only near the end of the first half with a 10-0 run that ended with Stringer’s buzzer-beater, sending the Claws to the locker room with a 60-49 lead.

Stringer said he was surprised to see the ball carom off the backboard and through the hoop.

“I knew I gave it a chance with as much arc as I put on it,” he said, “and it went in.”


The Bayhawks didn’t come closer than eight points the rest of the way. Ralph Sampson finished with a season-high 17 rebounds and Jason Calliste (15 points), Rodney McGruder (13), Christian Watford (11), Chaz Williams (10) and Omari Johnson (10) each scored in double figures. Asauhn Dixon-Tatum finished with nine points included a pair of resounding dunks, the prettiest on a pick-and-roll alley-oop pass from Babb.

The Red Claws shot 51.2 percent from the field and assisted on 33 of their 44 field goals with Stringer (12 assists) leading the way.

With Philadelphia signing erstwhile point guard Tim Frazier to a second 10-day contract, Stringer has been asked to do more ball-handling.

“It’s hard to fill shoes like Tim’s,” Stringer said. “He’s such a great passer and has a lot of speed. But I’m learning where I can be effective and I think I’m doing a little bit better at it each and every game.”

NOTES: Williams made his Expo debut. A 5-foot-9 point guard who finished up at the University of Massachusetts last spring, Williams played professionally in Turkey this winter before joining the Red Claws on Friday from his home in New York. Morrison said the addition of Williams relieves Stringer, Calliste and McGruder from the responsibility of directing the offense. “He allows us for 20-25 minutes to keep our shooters off the ball,” Morrison said. “He also brings a little bit of Tim’s pace, which is key for us, to get out and run and really space the floor early on and have our shooters be threats that the defense has to respect.” … Romero Osby, who rejoined the Red Claws earlier this month after playing for the team a year ago, rested Sunday after spraining an ankle Saturday night.

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